Encouraging News for Fans Watching the Champions League Final

by Jason Epstein

First, congrats to Manchester City and its fans.

Second, congrats to Galatasaray and its fans. (Some of Fenerbahce’s fans didn’t exactly take the second-place finish in stride.)

As for this Saturday’s Champions League final, those planning to watch the match on Fox may have advance reason to cheer. According to Ryan Yoder of Awful Announcing, don’t expect a repeat of last year’s coverage debacle.

Thankfully, according to FOX’s plans for this year’s Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea, there don’t appear to be any Michael Strahan segments or Shakira profiles this year. . . .

Though he was widely criticized last year, Curt Menefee will return to the broadcast, albeit in a different role. This year, he channels his inner Bob Costas and returns as “event host.” Rob Stone will be hosting on-site in Munich with U.S. and Tottenham goalie Brad Friedel and Eric Wynalda for analysis and most likely will handle the actual soccer discussion. Last year Menefee seemed out of his depths. Given the fact that Stone has handled all studio duties since his move from ESPN, the “event host” role seems unnecessary. Wyanlda and Friedel certainly didn’t wow anyone last year as pundits, although they were much better than Bruce Arena. Stone also has a chance to shine by interviewing UEFA head and likely successor to Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini. That’s the kind of segment that can help Fox improve their image if it’s done properly. . . .

One area where FOX should have no issues is after the game kicks off. The game broadcast will be simulcasted from sister network Sky Sports in England. For this broadcast, American viewers will get to enjoy Martin Tyler and former Manchester United defender Gary Neville. Tyler is of course one of the world’s best, while Neville has also done well in his young analyst career, highlighted by this orgasmic call of a Fernando Torres goal to seal Chelsea’s birth in the Final. Thankfully the Super Bowl of international soccer will be in good hands once the whistle blows.

More here.

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